The successful Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program (CEIP), a collaboration between The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL), will welcome 16 new students to the program on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus. Members of this CEIP Class of 2012, with representatives from 12 different states, will begin their 18-month journey of culinary excellence following the graduation of the inaugural class earlier this year. CEIP is the only professional development program to offer advanced management training specifically designed for skilled chefs.

“As CEIP grows, reaching deeper into the industry and involving more chefs through personal experience and word-of-mouth, we anticipate that our alumni will truly represent the future leadership of the American culinary world,” says Ron DeSantis, C.M.C., director of CIA Consulting and co-founder of CEIP.

The program’s objective is to teach an elite group of professional chefs how to identify, practice, and master the necessary skills for culinary leadership and innovation. Consisting of four academic and experiential modules, CEIP covers a range of topics, including global flavor traditions; the ethical responsibilities of healthful, flavorful food preparation; leadership and innovation; and menu R&D as a collaboration of culinary arts, consumer behavior, food science, and management. CEIP participants gather for three intense days every six months, disconnecting from their daily responsibilities as senior level chefs and immersing themselves in lectures, homework, hands-on kitchen work, and one-to-one dialogue with fellow chefs and visiting guest lecturers.

The CEIP Class of 2012 includes chefs from eight commercial and eight non-commercial foodservice establishments, representing colleges and universities, healthcare, food management services, fine dining, quick service, and fast casual operations. Among those attending are Ida Shen, assistant director, executive chef, from the University of California, Berkeley, who also is on the executive committee for Cal Dining, which serves more than 3.5 million customers annually in its facilities; Jens Retlev, director of culinary for Au Bon Pain out of Boston, who brings 40 years of culinary experience ranging from cookbook author to chef to restaurateur to businessman; Gregory Strickland, executive chef for Vi at Highlands Ranch in Colorado, where he has introduced a coursed, fully composed menu for increasingly discerning seniors at this leading luxury senior living facility; and Christopher Culp, manager of food and beverage concepts and innovation for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Atlanta, who is responsible for the development and support of concept food and beverage programs for the IHG brands.

The CIA Certified Master Chefs who created the educational modules, including Victor Gielisse, D.B.A., C.M.C., C.H.E., and associate vice president of the CIA’s Business Development, and DeSantis, have integrated experiences that serve to change perceptions and initiate conversations on the chefs’ own roles as leaders. Over the course of the program, the chefs will tour local sustainable farms and discuss best working relationship practices, prepare a gourmet four-course meal with only a trace of salt and a hint of butter, converse with well-known entrepreneurs, and role-play executive positions such as vice president of operations for a foodservice establishment in need of innovation.

“The goal is for these chefs to begin to think differently about every aspect of their work, so that they will bring a new level of vision to their organizations and to the industry at large,” says Dennis Goettsch, vice president of marketing for the foodservice division of Hormel Foods Corporation, and co-founder of the program.

Created by the CIA and Hormel Foods, Hormel Foods has underwritten the development of the curriculum and sponsors the tuition for each of the participating students. “We wanted to invest in the future of the culinary arts, helping prepare today’s best and brightest chefs for leadership in the field,” Goettsch says.